Pohang, Nagoya begin ACL campaign with wins


Doha (AFP) – Former winners Pohang Steelers of South Korea eased past Thailand’s Ratchaburi 2-0 as the Covid-hit Asian Champions League resumed in sedate fashion in Bangkok on Tuesday.

The tournament rushed through its western zone group phase in April at bio-secure venues in the Gulf and India, but the five groups in the eastern region are moving on a more drawn-out schedule over 19 match days in Thailand and Uzbekistan.

On Tuesday, Ukrainian striker Boris Tashchy gave Pohang the lead in the Group G match in the 11th minute, heading home from near the six-yard box off a cross from Manuel Palacios at the Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok.

Pohang, who won the tournament in 1997, 1998 and 2009, were dominant from the start.

Ratchaburi, getting their first taste at the continental level, also had their chances as Kritsananon Srisuwan just  missed after he was allowed space and Sanrawat Dechmitr sent his header thundering into the bar in the first half.

Pohang also missed on a couple of occasions before the break, notably when Colombian Manuel Palacios’ shot from inside the box was expertly saved by Ratchaburi goalkeeper Kampol Pathom-Attakul.

Kampol foiled Palacios again in the first minute of the second half and made a couple of other notable contributions before Lim Sang-Hyub struck with a powerful shot in the 81st minute to help Pohang consolidate.

In another Group G match on Tuesday, Japan’s Nagoya Grampus scraped to a 1-0 victory over Malaysia’s Johor Darul Ta’zim. 

Nagoya, who were coached by Arsene Wenger in 1995 and also had Gary Lineker in their ranks, struck the only goal through Hiroyuki Abe in the 60th minute. 

Johor thought they had equalised in stoppage time when Brazilian Bergson found the net with a header, but was ruled offside much to the disappointment of the Malaysians.

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